Jeremiah 20:7-13

Jeremiah 20:7-13
Ordinary A30


O Lord,A you have enticedB me,
    and I was enticed;
you have overpoweredC me,
    and you have prevailed.D
I have become a laughingstockE all day long;
    everyone mocksF me.

Notes on verse 7

A “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
B “enticed” = pathah. This is to be wide, open, or roomy. Figuratively, it can mean to be simple. Alternately, it can mean to delude, deceive, entice, or flatter.
C “overpowered” = chazaq. This is to strengthen, seize, be courageous, repair, bind, heal, conquer, harden.
D “prevailed” = yakol. This is to be able, endure, overcome, prevail.
E “laughingstock” = sechoq. 15x in OT. From sachaq (to laugh, celebrate, joke, mock, scorn. This is laughing, whether for joy or scorn. It can imply plays or holding a contest). This is laughter, enjoyment, joke, sport, or mocking. It can be laughter from joy or for scorn.
F “mocks” = laag. 19x in OT. This is to mock, deride, or laugh. It can also mean to stammer or speak incomprehensibly as though one were imitating a foreigner. So, it can be scorn or mock.

8 For whenever I speak, I must cry out,G
    I must shout,H “ViolenceI and destruction!”J

Notes on verse 8a

G “cry out” = zaaq. This is to cry or call out. It can be a call to assemble or gather together. By analogy, this could refer to a herald who announces a public gathering. It could also be a shriek from pain or danger.
H “shout” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
I “violence” = chamas. From chamas (to violate, do violence, to wrong; implies mistreatment). This is violence, cruelty, damage, wrong, injustice, or unrighteous. Violence implies a wrong done. The term is also used to describe unjust gain.
J “destruction” = shod. From shadad (to ruin, assault, devastate, oppress, destroy completely; properly, it is being burly; figuratively it is something that is powerful). This is violence, devastation, ruin, or oppression.

For the wordK of the Lord has become for me
    a reproachL and derisionM all day long.

Notes on verse 8b

K “word” = dabar. Related to “speak” in v8. From dabar (to speak, declare, discuss). This is speech, a word, a matter, an affair, charge, command, message, promise, purpose, report, request. It is a word, which implies things that are spoken of in a wide sense.
L “reproach” = cherpah. From charaph (to expose and so figuratively to reproach, defame, carp at, defy). This is reproach, rebuke, shame, or disgrace. It can also refer to genitals.
M “derision” = qeles. 3x in OT. From qalas (to mock, scorn, ridicule). This is derision or a laughingstock.

If I say, “I will not mentionN him,
    or speak any more in his name,”O
then withinP me there is something like a burningQ fire
    shut upR in my bones;S

Notes on verse 9a

N “mention” = zakar. This is to remember, to mark something so that it can be recalled, to be mindful of, to mention.
O “name” = shem. May be from sum (to put, place, set). This is name, fame, renown. A name was thought to indicate something essential about a person – something about their individuality. So, this word can also mean honor, authority, or character.
P “within” = leb. May be related to labab (to encourage; properly, to be encased as with fat; used in a good sense, this means to transport someone with love; used in a bad sense, it can mean to dull one’s senses). This is the heart, courage, one’s inner self, the mind, or the will. Heart is only used in a figurative sense in the Old and New Testaments.
Q “burning” = ba’ar. This is to burn, consume, heat, remove. It can also be to consume by a fire or through eating, being brutish or wasting
R “shut up” = atsar. To inclose, restrain, keep, hold back, or prevail. It can also mean to maintain, rule, or gather together.
S “bones” = etsem. From atsam (vast, numerous, strong; to close one’s eyes, to make powerful; to break bones). This is self, life, strength, bone, or substance.

I am wearyT with holding it in,U
    and I cannot.V

Notes on verse 9b

T “am weary” = laah. 19x in OT. This is to be weary or exhausted, parched, faint, or tired. It could also mean to be impatient, or have a hard time. Figuratively, this could refer to being grieved or disgusted. This is the root verb that Leah comes from.
U “holding…in” = kul. This is to hold in. So, it can be to contain, measure, guide, or feed. It can also mean to be able to or sustain.
V “cannot” = lo + yakol. Yakol is the same as “prevailed” in v7. See note D above.

10 For I hearW manyX whispering:Y
    “TerrorZ is all around!AA

Notes on verse 10a

W “hear” = shama. This is to hear, call, consent, or consider. It implies listening intelligently, giving attention, and, because of these two factors, obedience and action are often implied.
X “many” = rab. From rabab (increasing in any aspect whether quantity, authority, size, quality, greatness, etc.). This is abundance, many, elder, exceedingly, great. It refers to abundance of amount, rank, or status.
Y “whispering” = dibbah. 9x in OT. From dabab (to glide, flow gently, move slowly, speak). This is flowing so it can mean whispering, bad report, slander, or infamy.
Z “terror” = magor. 8x in OT. From gur (to quarrel, stir, attack). This is fear, panic, or terror.
AA “all around” = sabib. From sabab (turning around, going around; to surround, cast, walk, fetch; to revolve or border in a literal or figurative sense). This is a circuit or a circle. It could refer to an environment, one’s neighbors, or a circular path round about.

DenounceBB him! Let us denounce him!”
    All my close friendsCC
    are watchingDD for me to stumble.EE

“Perhaps he can be enticed,
    and we can prevail against him,
    and take our revengeFF on him.”

Notes on verse 10b

BB “denounce” = nagad. This is to declare, make conspicuous, stand in front, manifest, predict, explain.
CC “close friends” = enosh + shalom. Literally “man of peace.” Enosh is from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). It is human, humankind, mortal. Shalom is from shalam (to be complete or sound; to have safety mentally, physically, or extending to one’s estate; so, if these things are safe and complete, the implication is that one would be friendly; and, if being friendly, one would make amends and that friendship would be reciprocated). This is completeness, soundness, welfare, favor, friend, good health. It is to be safe and figuratively well, happy, at peace, friendly. Abstractly, it includes the ideas of welfare and prosperity (not in excessive wealth, but in having enough).
DD “watching” = shamar. This is to keep, watch, or preserve. It means to guard something or to protect it as a thorny hedge protects something.
EE “stumble” = tsela. 3x in OT. From tsala (to limp, to curse); perhaps from tsela (rib, side, leaf, plank, side of a person or object; quarter of the sky). This is limping, halting, or stumbling. Figuratively, this is adversity.
FF “revenge” = neqamah. From naqam (a quarrel or vengeance); from naqam (to avenge, punish, have a grudge, execute). This is vengeance, or revenge – whether the act of vengeance or the drive towards vengeance.

11 But the Lord is with me like a dreadGG warrior;HH
    therefore my persecutorsII will stumble,JJ
    and they will not prevail.

Notes on verse 11a

GG “dread” = arits. From arats (to tremble, dread, stand in awe, oppress, harass). This is awe-inspiring or terror-inducing, ruthless, tyrant, oppressor, violent, powerful.
HH “warrior” = gibbor. From gabar (to be strong or mighty; to prevail or be insolent). This is strong, mighty, or powerful. This can imply a warrior, hero, or tyrant.
II “persecutors” = radaph. This is to chase after, pursue, hunt, or persecute. It is running after someone or something, generally with hostile motives.
JJ “stumble” = kashal. This is to stumble, fail, be weak or decayed, be overthrown, to totter. It can refer to weak legs or ankles so it is falter, faint, or fall.

They will be greatly shamed,KK
    for they will not succeed.LL
Their eternalMM dishonorNN
    will never be forgotten.OO

Notes on verse 11b

KK “be…shamed” = bosh. Properly, this means to be pale, which implies shame, disappointment, or confusion.
LL “succeed” = sakal. This is to consider or be prudent and so it can mean to instruct or be an expert. It can also mean dealing prudently, which implies success and prospering. This verb presumes intelligence of the subject. In one form of the verb, it can mean laying cross-wise.
MM “eternal” = olam. This is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).
NN “dishonor” = kelimmah. From kalam (bearing shame, bringing dishonor or disgrace, humiliate insult, taunt, embarrass, reproach; properly to wound in a figurative sense). This is insult, disgrace, dishonor, humiliation, shame, or reproach.
OO “be forgotten” = shakach. This is to forget or mislay – it is not knowing because of forgetfulness or inattentiveness.

12 O Lord of hosts,PP you testQQ the righteous,RR
    you see the heart and the mind;SS

Notes on verse 12a

PP “hosts” = tsaba. From tsaba (to wage war, serve, assemble, fight, perform, muster, wait on). This is a large group of persons (used figuratively for a group of things). It implies a campaign literally as with army, war, warfare, battle, company, soldiers. Can also be used figuratively for hardship or for worship.
QQ “test” = bachan. This is to examine, test, or prove – as one tests metals. It can also be used literally or figuratively for investigating or trying.
RR “righteous” = tsaddiq. From the same as tsedeq (rightness, righteousness, just cause, vindication; that which is right in a natural, moral, or legal sense; abstractly equity; figuratively prosperity). This is just, innocent, righteous, righteous one, or lawful.
SS “the heart and the mind” = kilyah + leb. Kilyah is perhaps from (something that was prepared – any implement, utensil, article, vessel, weapon, or instrument; also includes jewels, weapons, bags, carriages, and furniture); from kalah (to end, be finished, complete, prepare, consume, spent, or completely destroyed). This is inward parts, such as kidney or heart. It can also be inmost being as feelings, mind, or within. Leb is the same as “within” in v9. See note P above.

let me see your retributionTT upon them,
    for to you I have committedUU my cause.VV

Notes on verse 12b

TT “retribution” = neqamah. Same as “revenge” in v10. See note FF above.
UU “committed” = galah. This is to remove, bring, carry, lead, appear, advertise. It can mean to strip someone or something bare in a negative sense. Captives were typically stripped before they were sent into exile. Used figuratively, in a positive sense, this word means reveal, disclose, discover.
VV “cause” = rib. From rib (properly to toss or grapple; used figuratively to mean wrangling and so for arguments, complaints, or disputes; used in a legal setting for pleading or defending a case). This is strife or dispute – whether a personal one or one in a court of law.

13 Sing to the Lord;
    praiseWW the Lord!

For he has deliveredXX the lifeYY of the needyZZ
    from the handsAAA of evildoers.BBB

Notes on verse 13

WW “praise” = halal. This is to be clear – it originally referred to a sound, then a color. It was to shine and then make a show or boast then to rave. In a causative sense it came to mean celebrate, give glory, sing praise, or be worth of praise. Because of the celebratory nature of the word, it could also mean to give in marriage. This is where Hallelujah comes from.
XX “delivered” = natsal. This is to snatch someone or something away in a good sense – as rescue, defend, or deliver – or in a bad sense – as strip or plunder.
YY “life” = nephesh. Related to naphash (to refresh or be refreshed). This is soul, self, person, emotion. It is a breathing creature. Can also refer to appetites and desires.
ZZ “needy” = ebyon. From abah (to consent, obey, want, yield, accept). This is needy, poor, beggar. Someone who is wanting.
AAA “hands” = yad. This is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it.
BBB “evildoers” = ra’a’. Literally, this is to destroy something by breaking it into pieces. Figuratively, it is to cause something to be worthless or bad physically, socially, or morally. This word can be to be evil, bad, afflict, displease, harm, break down, do mischief. This is the root where the Hebrew word for “evil” comes from. The concept includes anything that is not how it ought to be: a natural disaster, a disfigurement, illness, pain, sin, wickedness, etc. It is less that a hurricane or deformity is evil and more that it goes against how God generally orders the universe. Here, harm and destruction is categorically said to be antithetical to God’s will for humanity.

Image credit: “Cry of Prophet Jeremiah on the Ruins of Jerusalem” by Ilya Repin, 1870.

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